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Keegan interview

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011...pool?CMP=twt_gu

 

The Saturday interview: Kevin Keegan

Footballing legend Kevin Keegan talks about his record as a player, his managerial career and the corruption crisis facing Fifa

 

  • Kevin Keegan once got a lovely fax. It came from the most powerful – and, in some quarters today, detested – man in football. "Please allow me on behalf of
Fifa, and all those who believe in the spirit of fair play, to commend you for the positive attitude you bring to our game," wrote Sepp Blatter.This was all the more surprising since it came after Keegan saw his Newcastle United team's season crash and burn. On 3 April 1996, Newcastle lost 4-3 at Liverpool in one of the more thrilling games played in the English premiership. The lead changed four times, Newcastle were ahead 3-2 with 22 minutes to go, but were confounded by a 90th-minute Stan Collymore coup de grace.
 
That drama was personified by Keegan – never a man, as player or manager, to repress his feelings – slumped over Anfield's advertising hoardings after defeat. "Kevin Keegan hangs his head," howled one commentator. "He's devastated!" Keegan was in fact unrepentant. "We'll carry on playing this way, or I go," he told reporters later.
 
I remind Keegan of Blatter's fax for two reasons. One because it recalls distant days when the Fifa general secretary praised English footballing philosophy, rather than being the man widely regarded as heading a corrupt organisation that scuppered England's chance of hosting the 2018 World Cup. And two, to remind us that Keegan's derided gung-ho tactics have had eminent supporters. "I remember that fax very well," says Keegan. "Blatter was pleased the game was great spectacle, not tactically clever stalemate."
 
But it wasn't just the spectacle that impressed Blatter. It was Keegan's heroic scorn for disaster. "I remember saying: 'I should be despondent but I am not.' For me, then and now, the question is, 'What is success?' It isn't only about winning, but playing in a certain way."
 
Surely footballing success is measured in silverware? "Is it?" asks Keegan, brushing something from one of the thighs that once wreaked havoc on weaker defences. He looks over the double bed in ruminative silence.
 
We're in room 2812 of a labyrinthine Manchester airport transit hotel, 10 minutes from Keegan's home. We're sitting in two narrow tub chairs, one of which can scarcely contain the still firm musculature of the 60-year-old, 5ft 8in footballing superstar, whom adoring Hamburg fans nicknamed, in his late-70s pomp, "Mighty Mouse". Between us on the table is one apple and a bottle of mineral water. This is the first time I've rented a hotel room by the hour and, to be honest, the last person I thought I'd be doing it with is a free-scoring legend of Liverpool, Newcastle, Hamburg and Southampton football clubs, an ex-England manager, OBE and properly proud son of a south Yorkshire miner.
 
Back to the hotel room. Keegan is still contemplating the wall. Hanging off his chair is a black, quilted jacket matching black patent leather shoes, T-shirt and golfing trousers. He has two pairs of glasses perched on distinguished grey locks that have replaced his poodle perm. One pair is for reading, the others are massive wraparound shades that he will wear, no doubt, if Robert de Niro can't get hold of Joe Pesci and needs someone rubbed out at Alderley Edge later.
 
It's an interesting week to meet Keegan, as Fifa's reputation plunges into freefall. On Monday vice-president Jack Warner resigned amid suggestions that he jumped before he was pushed; later, a leaked report from Fifa's ethics committee alleged Warner had been told it was likely he was at least "an accessory to corruption". When I solicit Keegan's thoughts on it, he sounds an intriguingly sceptical note. "What I know is that when I was England manager I went to Trinidad and Tobago, where Jack Warner was king of football, and he had clearly done a lot of good in providing training facilities and getting kids into the game. How he had got the money to do that I don't know."
 
What if Warner did that by corruptly raising funds? "Everybody does things at that level in football that are questionable. When I was England manager and we went to Trinidad and Tobago, we did training with the kids – it wasn't perhaps on the same scale but it was clearly intended to get votes. You could say that's quite bad. You could say we shouldn't have. But everybody did.
 
"What amazes me more than anything is that Jack Warner leaves and they drop all the charges against him. Only football organisations like Fifa and the FA could get away with that. Any other organisation would face a thoroughgoing investigation from the outside."
 
Surely the FA isn't similar to Fifa? "To a certain degree the FA is very similar. Only a few votes decide who's on a committee, and a handful of top guys make the huge decisions that make or break the game. The person at the top defines the morals of an organisation, often not for the good. You see that at football clubs all the time." So what's the answer to such plutocratically run football clubs divorced from their social roots and historic fanbases? "In Barcelona they have 146,000 owners, and the best football team in the world. It's been tried in England by putting supporters on the board, but not enough."
 
That reform alone would not solve one of English (not to mention Scottish, Welsh and Irish) football's biggest problems – the dearth of great home-grown talent in allegedly the world's greatest club league. "English football is in a bad way because the foreign players here are so good, so dominant," says Keegan. So do you feel sympathy for Fabio Capello, England's current manager? "He knows what I know – that there are a few players coming through who are good. Thankfully that's not my problem now."
 
After England's spiritless World Cup collapse this time last year, and the mediocrities of the 2010-11 premiership season, perhaps we could do with Keegan's "positive attitude", and his return to football management. "I still get offers, but I don't fancy it." Instead he's just renewed his two-year contract as a pundit for sports network ESPN.
 
"Let me ask you something, " says Keegan. "Do you think Bill Shankly is a great manager?" He swivels to face me. Frankly, Shankly was the Liverpool manager who signed Keegan in 1971 for £35,000 from Scunthorpe, a legendary figure whose greatness it would be folly to contest before his one-time disciple. I tell Keegan as much. "Well, I checked his record, and I've got at least 0.5% more wins than him – and he's a great manager. Statistically I'm a better manager than him!"
 
It's true: Shankly won 49.95% of his games as manager, while Keegan won 50.47%. Shankly's win ratio was blighted by his pre-Liverpool tenures at Workington, Carlisle and Huddersfield, while Keegan's was diminished by his February 1999-October 2000 tenure as England manager: he won only 38.9% of his games, the worst record of any permanent England manager. There's something oedipal in this statistical triumph over Shankly, since the pint-sized football philosophising firebrand was a father figure to the similarly pint-sized attacking dynamo. "I learned so much from Shanks. He used to say: 'If I was a road-sweeper, my street would be the cleanest in the borough.' I took that to heart. Everything I've done I've done with enthusiasm and passion. Everything I turn up to, I think I'm going to enjoy. I never look back, so I don't have regrets."
 
Surely you have regrets? Your second stint at Newcastle? Your tactically jejune stewardship of the national team? That fearful moment – oh, God – when your point-blank header in the 1982 World Cup against Spain went wide? But no: Keegan is like a footballing Edith Piaf: "Everything I did was the right decision." We're meeting because Keegan is one of 12 mentors for an npower scheme called What's Your Goal? "You get involved in these things. Some pay good money. Some make a difference. Years ago I endorsed Brut 33 with Henry Cooper. There wasn't a moral dimension to it. With this there's a social element – it's aimed at 11- to 16-year-old kids. Part of it is getting kids to think about careers in football, but some of it is about getting them to turn off their phones, get fit and do things as a family."
 
Excellent. But isn't the What's Your Goal scheme hobbled by the sheer contemptibleness of so much modern football – how it's in hock to money-grubbers, divorced from its working-class roots, how its leading practitioners are foul-mouthed multi-millionaires, how even its organising bodies are mired in corruption allegations? Why should anyone aspire to join that kind of industry? "When I played you never felt disconnected from the fans because you were earning maybe two to three times more than them, not the stratospheric salaries of today. I was the bridge between that innocent era of Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Gordon Banks, Alan Ball – and whatever it is now.
 
"For us, it was never about money. At Liverpool the best-paid player was Tommy Smith, and he only got 30 quid a week more than me. He may have got £120, I may have got £90, Phil Thompson might have had £60 because he was relatively junior, Emlyn Hughes a bit more because he was an international." Keegan did a ghosted column for the Daily Express in the early 70s that paid almost as much as his weekly salary. It's hard to imagine Wayne Rooney stooping to peck at such remunerative crumbs.
 
Keegan's in unremitting reminiscence mode now. "In my day, players would smoke in the tunnel before the match. There were stoves in changing rooms and home teams would turn them up to choke opponents before the game. When I was playing, there were only three games on Match of the Day each week, so only 65 of my 100 goals have been filmed. The other 35 are lost for ever. Today all goals are filmed. You'll never see some of the best things I ever did."
 
Keegan retired from playing aged 33 and moved to Spain, where his two daughters (no sons to follow in his footballing footsteps) grew up unaware he was a footballer. He played a lot of golf in those days. "They may have thought I was a professional golfer."
 
Why did he retire so early? "I could have hung back in midfield for another three or four years, but I thought, no. It was the best decision I made in my life. I was at the highest level and the only way was down. I call it the glass mountain – you can't climb a glass mountain," says Keegan, looking at me balefully. Was moving into management – with Newcastle in 1992, then Fulham, England, Manchester City and Newcastle again – any sort of compensation? "After playing football, there's nothing like it again. Management is a pale attempt to hang on to the excitement."
 
His wife Jean phones demanding he returns home to look after the dog. And so ends my hotel room tryst with a legend. Keegan takes the apple, I neck the mineral water. He pulls down the shades, zips up the jacket, as if ready for the hit. The shades are unnecessary: outside it's midsummer Manchester – fierce rain from leaden skies. He scampers off with an age-defying turn of pace. The dog? It is, like Kevin Keegan, a Yorkshire terrier.

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"Is it?" asks Keegan, brushing something from one of the thighs that once wreaked havoc on weaker sphincters. He looks over the double bed in ruminative silence.

 

Reads like something from one of Alan Titchmarsh's romantic novels.

Edited by Kevin S. Assilleekunt

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Reckon Fish gave an approving nod though.

I've always visualised him as a fashion icon, like Right Said Fred, he looks like him too.

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Reckon Fish gave an approving nod though.

Depends if it was Barbour or not. :lol:

 

Prefer Baboon mesel. Nothing beats the whiff of baboon fur when reminiscing in the Ritz over a cuppa.

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Somebody like Keegan would be great for the U-21s, even if it's just getting them to attempt to play football. As even though he's quite a bit older than Pearce, he's far more innovative and a forward thinker than he'll ever be.

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If anything the under 21's need regression rather than forward thinking. They keep trying to play tiki taka but end up holding up the ball and making no forward movements involving the slightest risk. They only seem to make any movements down the wing and even then it seems to be only because they feel obliged to make an effort as they are hopeless in the centre of midfield .

 

A poster of Kevin Keegan with ''Go for it'' as the caption would do a better job than Pearce. It doesn't have to be about results or tactics too much at that level in my opinion.

 

Observe

 

2hyxfm8.jpg

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If anything the under 21's need regression rather than forward thinking. They keep trying to play tiki taka but end up holding up the ball and making no forward movements involving the slightest risk. They only seem to make any movements down the wing and even then it seems to be only because they feel obliged to make an effort as they are hopeless in the centre of midfield .

 

A poster of Kevin Keegan with ''Go for it'' as the caption would do a better job than Pearce. It doesn't have to be about results or tactics too much at that level in my opinion.

 

Observe

 

2hyxfm8.jpg

 

I disagree I think we have to start producing players who are comfortable on the ball. The earlier they learn this the better. I don't think we do try and play tiki taka, I think we play "errr errr errr HOOF!"

 

Keegan would at least have us playing dynamic football and could instill a passion in the youth that is lacking in the seniors.

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My point is when they get the ball they are afraid to do anything with it - they try to hold the ball but often they can't & often by the time they lose it between toying between the wings and the centre they've done nothing with it.

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My point is when they get the ball they are afraid to do anything with it - they try to hold the ball but often they can't & often by the time they lose it between toying between the wings and the centre they've done nothing with it.

yeah, but regressing them is not going to stop that. England School boys should be taught to look up, to pick a pass. The first thing we were told was "When in doubt, put it out", we need to get out of that mindset

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The urge to make several Keegan wallpapers with 'Go For it' as the caption is currently being repressed.

Give in to your urges.

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My point is when they get the ball they are afraid to do anything with it - they try to hold the ball but often they can't & often by the time they lose it between toying between the wings and the centre they've done nothing with it.

yeah, but regressing them is not going to stop that. England School boys should be taught to look up, to pick a pass. The first thing we were told was "When in doubt, put it out", we need to get out of that mindset

I was told 'If in doubt, turn your opponent and put a beautiful 40 yard through-ball on a six-pence'. Think you missed out on your football education, wor kid. ;)

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My point is when they get the ball they are afraid to do anything with it - they try to hold the ball but often they can't & often by the time they lose it between toying between the wings and the centre they've done nothing with it.

yeah, but regressing them is not going to stop that. England School boys should be taught to look up, to pick a pass. The first thing we were told was "When in doubt, put it out", we need to get out of that mindset

I was told 'If in doubt, turn your opponent and put a beautiful 40 yard through-ball on a six-pence'. Think you missed out on your football education, wor kid. ;)

:lol:

 

bstd

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My point is when they get the ball they are afraid to do anything with it - they try to hold the ball but often they can't & often by the time they lose it between toying between the wings and the centre they've done nothing with it.

yeah, but regressing them is not going to stop that. England School boys should be taught to look up, to pick a pass. The first thing we were told was "When in doubt, put it out", we need to get out of that mindset

I was told 'If in doubt, turn your opponent and put a beautiful 40 yard through-ball on a six-pence'. Think you missed out on your football education, wor kid. ;)

<_<

 

bstd

I was brought up on Beardsley, Waddle and Gazza as well as watching World Cups with the likes of Maradona, Socrates, Michael Laudrup and Platini, no way would anyone who was any good :whistle: ever going to hoof anything, anywhere! :lol:

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My point is when they get the ball they are afraid to do anything with it - they try to hold the ball but often they can't & often by the time they lose it between toying between the wings and the centre they've done nothing with it.

yeah, but regressing them is not going to stop that. England School boys should be taught to look up, to pick a pass. The first thing we were told was "When in doubt, put it out", we need to get out of that mindset

 

those words haunt me to this day, stupidest saying in football.

 

it only exists cause it rhymes but somehow people think its a good coaching mantra

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My point is when they get the ball they are afraid to do anything with it - they try to hold the ball but often they can't & often by the time they lose it between toying between the wings and the centre they've done nothing with it.

yeah, but regressing them is not going to stop that. England School boys should be taught to look up, to pick a pass. The first thing we were told was "When in doubt, put it out", we need to get out of that mindset

 

those words haunt me to this day, stupidest saying in football.

 

it only exists cause it rhymes but somehow people think its a good coaching mantra

Ohhhh glorious. If the rest was the cake, there's the icing.

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